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Life After the Bell Rings: Project Highlights Teachers' 'Secret Lives'

Life After the Bell Rings: Project Highlights Teachers' 'Secret Lives'

For years, teachers may have found their students shocked when they tell the class about what they did over the weekend or share personal stories. Some may think that teachers may not have a life outside of the classroom. 

A recent story NPR, "The Secret Lives of Teachers", follows the project of writer Steve Drummond, whose mission is to share teachers' hobbies, and where they "go when the 3:00 bell rings."

"But of course teachers go off and do all sorts of things: They write books and play music and run for office and start businesses," he said. "For some, a life outside the classroom is an economic necessity. In many states, more than 1 in 5 teachers has a second job."

Drummond said for others, "it's a natural outgrowth of their lives as educators: the drama teacher performing in community theater, the history teacher/Civil War re-enactor, the music teacher onstage at open-mic night."

"And still others have some private passion that has nothing to do with teaching or school — it may be the thing that keeps them fresh and fired up when they are in the classroom," he said.

Drummond begins by introducing teacher Mathias "Spider" Schergen and his "secret life" of turning his one-car garage into an art studio.

He turned it into a studio, a crowded place full of lumber and wood and paint and scrap metal and odd things like shoes and fabric," Drummond said. "Stuff that he fashions into art. Schergen, 61, is slender and muscular — his most notable feature, perhaps, his tattoos of spiders. They're part of a persona that he has created — "Mr. Spider" — that year after year his students at Jenner Elementary Academy of the Arts find mysterious and fascinating."

Schergen has taught at Jenner Elementary Academy of the Arts for 21 years, "through good times and bad," the article said. The school "once stood in the shadow of the notorious Cabrini-Green housing projects in one of the city's most violent and dangerous neighborhoods. Now, the projects are gone and the school is surrounded by new developments." Still, low-income children attend the school, with 96 percent receiving free and reduced lunch.

Schergen's hobby, the article said, is "transforming objects that other people have discarded or overlooked."

"The art brings me back to my thinking and reflection," Schergen said. "As my life has changed, and I've found I'm not so harried, my interest and my aesthetic have reflected that."

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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